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How Long does Alcohol Stay in Breast Milk

When a woman is pregnant, she is asked to refrain from alcohol consumption, if she is habituated to it. In fact, for the newborn baby’s good health, one should abstain from it during the entire period of pregnancy. This is because it has been found to interfere with the fetal growth and cause many developmental problems. Fetal alcohol syndrome is said to occur when a mother consumes it while expecting. This syndrome causes many growth, mental and physical problems in the newborn baby. But, what about drinking a glass or two after the baby is born? Is breastfeeding and liquor consumption, together, a good idea? Let us find out.

It is a notable fact that most of the nutrients from foods you consume are passed on to the baby while lactating. One wonders, if alcohol can be passed on to the baby when nursing. You may have heard old tales, that in the past, women used to drink beer for milk production. Thus, one definitely gets confused if this story is true.

Does Alcohol Stay in Breast Milk?
It is easily passed into the breast milk. This is because mother’s milk consists of blood that passes through her mammary glands. If there is alcohol content in her blood, it is very likely that it will be in her milk. Thus, its level in her blood indicates the level in the milk. However, it does not constantly remain. As soon as it gets metabolized from the blood by the liver, the mother’s milk will be alcohol-free.

How Long do Effects of it Last in the Mother’s Milk?
The effects of it on a breastfed baby are not harmful as long as a mother limits herself to one drink or less/day. The liquor’s level in the milk is highest for about 30 to 60 minutes after drinking. Thus, for a woman who is about 120 pounds in weight and about 5 feet 4 inches in height, it will take 2 to 3 hours for total elimination of the drink from her body. This is if she had just one serving of beer or wine. A high alcoholic drink will take about 13 hours to be completely washed from the body.

Is it Alright to Breastfeed and Consume Alcohol?
The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs has found that drinking is compatible with breastfeeding. However, a nursing mother should follow certain guidelines that has been set. This will help prevent effects on the baby. After consumption, it takes about half an hour to reach the breast milk. Thus, if a woman wants to drink, she should have eaten something recently or have finished nursing the baby. A baby should not be breastfed, if the mother is experiencing effects of drinking like drowsiness, deep sleep, etc.

Daily drinking is not recommended for lactating mothers. Regular consumption of alcohol can cause inhibition of milk let down and slow weight gain in the baby. The American Academy on Drugs also recommends that one should only consume one or two drinks a week when breastfeeding. If she thinks about consuming more, she should pump her milk and keep it aside. This way, even if she has more than drinks, she will be able to feed liquor-free milk to the baby.

It is always better to breastfeed a baby after about 2 to 3 hours of drinking. Consuming a drink or two in a week won’t cause any major harm to the baby. Chronic or heavy drinkers should avoid breastfeeding completely. On the whole, it is always better for nursing mothers to avoid drinking alcohol as far as possible.

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